AGGRIEVED councillors and traders in Magor have said they are being unfairly excluded from a funding package to help businesses adapt to the challenges of coronavirus. The Welsh Government funded Town Centre Adaptation Grant, which enables traders to apply for up to £8,000 to make additions to their model to get them through the winter, only applies to towns across Wales. Magor, despite its size and standing in the county as a real destination for visitors, is a village – meaning traders currently cannot apply. More News

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Cllr Frances Taylor, who says she is baffled by the strictness of the guidelines, has organised a virtual meeting with Newport East MS John Griffiths this week to try to get the issues realised at government level. “We are double the population of Usk, we’ve got loads of new businesses, and yet we are not in line for support,” she said. “Our businesses are really disappointed. Some just want to put up a canopy to help them get by. “I know the government hasn’t got a pot of gold, but surely it can be shared equally. It may be a small investment for these traders but it has huge economic consequences. “If you’re a business you should receive support. But it’s especially important for Magor at the moment – which is really showing signs of promise. “We don’t know what the next few months are going to hold, and our uncertainty would be helped if shoppers can at least have the confidence to visit.” Leeann Davies, who owns Village Treats on The Square, says she has seen a significant fall in sales since the weather turned last week. “I’ve been doing fine, with long queues outside after the kids come out of school, and that all stopped on Friday due to the weather,” she said. She worries that could be telling as she heads for a difficult winter. “Footfall has not been bad in Magor this summer, but I fear if we go into the winter without the adaptation support, people will avoid us and go to the supermarket,” she said. MS John Griffiths said: “I am concerned traders are not currently qualifying for the Town Centre Adaptation Grant. Whilst I appreciate it is technically classed as a village, the reality is the population is growing year by year and in the next five years there will soon be more people living here locally in comparison to other towns like Usk and Welshpool.” A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We have consulted with local authorities on the scheme and responded to requests that they should have the flexibility to broaden support to any town centres.” A Monmouthshire council spokeswoman said: “We appreciate the challenges businesses in Magor face as a result of the pandemic, especially now that trade has been lost from Newport due to lockdown. “Through our Shop Local campaign, we have been highlighting the importance of supporting local businesses in Magor and we are keen to continue working with owners to assist in every way possible. “However, the Town Centre Outdoor Adaptation Grant is repurposed funding from the Transforming Towns policy, designated by Welsh Government as only for towns.”